Recent campaigns by the AFL have made great inroads into tackling homophobia in sport. But Cairns trans woman Michelle Diamond is taking it one step further by capitalising upon her love for AFL to raise awareness of transphobia. When Diamond applied to become an official goal umpire with the AFL’s north Queensland league in Cairns earlier this year, to her delight they accepted her request and signed her up for an umpire training program.
Overcoming her trepidations about the reactions of players and fans in such a traditionally ‘masculine’ sport, Diamond decided to be herself, and be open about her gender identity.
“I was very nervous on my first training night I must admit… but it was awesome” Diamond told the Star Observer. “They are great towards me, I don’t get treated different from anyone else and haven’t had any major dramas at all.”
Diamond was upfront to AFL management about her gender when she applied, and was pleased to be treated with respect and understanding. Her primary fears did follow her onto the field during her first training session but were quickly dispelled when she realised she was being seen as an equal.
“We all train together and everyone gets treated equally… I love the sport that much and I look forward to training every week – as hard as it gets some nights.”
Diamond’s passion for footie has not waned since she first fell in love with the game in the 1980s in Melbourne. She feels a huge amount of pride for the recent efforts by the AFL to combat and address homophobia within the sport, and hopes through her involvement that she can increase people’s understanding about transphobia.
“A lot of progress has been made I think over the past few years. I admire a lot of trans men and woman who are in the sporting community as it’s not easy out there by any means and the more people within sport who are educated and aware of transgender people and their rights, the more visible we will be.”